Archaeologists have found a rare “mud mummy” from ancient Egypt. The deceased is encased in a hardened mud shell. The “mud carapace” is a mortuary treatment not previously documented in the Egyptian archaeological record.
The mud wrap could have been used to stabilize the mummy after it was damaged, but the mud may have also been meant to emulate practices used by society’s elite, who were sometimes mummified with imported resin-based materials during a nearly 350-year period, from the late New Kingdom to the 21st Dynasty (about 1294 BCE to 945 BCE) says researchers.
The mud sheath isn’t the mummy’s only oddity. The mummy, dated to about 1207 BCE, was damaged after death, and was even interred in the wrong coffin actually meant for a woman who died more recently, the researchers found.
The “mud mummy” and its lidded coffin were acquired in the 1800s by a Western collector, in this case, Sir Charles Nicholson, an English-Australian politician who brought it to Australia. Nicholson donated them to the University of Sydney in 1860, and today they reside at the university’s Chau Chak Wing Museum. But it appears that whoever sold the artifacts tricked Nicholson; the coffin is younger than the body buried in it, the researchers found.